Statements from Senior Iranian Officials about Regional Iranian Intervention
- Speaking at a forum of Iranian diplomats in Tehran, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei briefed them on regional developments. Regarding the situation in Syria, he said that the solution to the Syrian crisis was in holding elections, ending foreign military and financial support for the Syrian opposition, and ending the fighting, which would provide a good, stable atmosphere for Syrian elections
- Khamenei said it was impossible to divide Iraq between Shi'ite and Sunni Arabs and the Kurds, and was not in the interest of the Iraqi public. He added it was Iranian policy that Iraq's territorial integrity had to be preserved.
- Khamenei said the Iranian position on the Palestinian issue was based on eliminating the "artificial occupying regime" [i.e., Israel], condemning the "daily crimes" carried out by the "Zionist regime" and holding free elections for all Palestinians
- Regarding the situation in Yemen, Khamenei said the solution for the crisis had be the immediate end of Saudi Arabia's "crimes" and the holding of internal Yemeni talks
- Khamenei said that the main cause of the lack of regional security was America's support of Israel and of the Islamist terrorist organizations, which was diametrically opposed to Iranian policy. He rejected the idea of negotiating with the United States on regional issues, and claimed America sought to further its own interests, not solve regional problems (Fars News, November 1, 2015)
- Former Defense Minister Minister Ahmad Vahidi, who currently heads the Iranian center for strategic defense studies, gave a speech at the Azad Islamic University in Hamedan. He claimed that without the Iranian presence in Iraq and Syria, all the countries in the region would have gone up in flames. He also claimed that after four years of war in Syria, everyone had reached the conclusion that Iran had proved its victory. As to the situation in Iraq, Vahidi claimed Iran had prevented the Iraq's collapse and totally repelled the ISIS terrorists. He repeated the official position that Iran was not directly involved in the fighting but only provided advisors. As to the Palestinian arena, he claimed the "Zionists" had lost the Gaza Strip and would also lose the West Bank, and that they were witness to the might of the roots of the third intifada (Fars News, October 29, 2015)
- Iran's active participation in the ground offensive in northern Syria continues to claim many victims among IRGC fighters. Since it began more than 30 IRGC fighters have been killed in the fighting. During the past two week more than 20 fighters were killed
- Ruhollah Emadi from Mazandaran Province, killed in Aleppo (TasnimNews, October 25, 2015).
- Sajjad Tahernia, from Gilan Province (Bahjat News, October 25, 2015)
- Mohammad Ali Hosseini, from the Fatemiyoun Brigade of Afghan fighters in the service of the IRGC, killed in the region of Ghab (Serat News, October 25, 2015).
- Mohammad Zahiri, from Khuzestan, a fighter in the the Saberin special forces, killed in the southern part of Aleppo (Mashriq News, October 25, 2015).
- Pouya Izadi, a Basij operative from Lenjan in Isfahan Province, a fighter in the IRGC's 8th armored brigade (Fars News, October 26, 2015).
- Hamid Reza Daei Taghi, from Isfahan Province, a fighter in the IRGC's 8th armored brigade (Fars News, October 26, 2015).
- Abuzar Amjadian, from Kermanshah Province (Fars News, October 27, 2015).
- Jabbar Araqi, an IRGC officer from Khuzestan Province (Defa Press and Fars, October 27, 2015).
- Mohammad Reza Asgari, from Khoramshahr Province (Fars News, October 27, 2015).
- Heydar Anvari Rostami, a fighter in the Fatemiyoun brigade (Fars News, October 27, 2015).
- Moselm Nasr, an officer in the 33rd airborne brigade, killed in the region of Aleppo (Fars News, October 27, 2015).
- Khanali Yousefi, a fighter in the Fatemiyoun brigade, from Jahrom in Fars Province, killed in the region of Aleppo (Fars News, October 27, 2015).
- Mehdi Kaeeni (Fars News, October 28, 2015).
- Hossein Jamali, from Fars Province, a fighter in the Saberin special forces, killed near Aleppo (Fasaei.com, October 28, 2015).
- Hojjat Asghari Sharabiani, a Basij fighter from Tehran Province, apparently killed in Aleppo (Dana News, October 29, 2015).
- Mohammad Hossein Mirdousti, from Tehran, a fighter in the IRGC's Rasoulallah unit in Tehran (Bultannews.ir, October 31, 2015)
- Hamid Fatemi-Mombeyn, a Basij fighter from Khuzestan (Fars News, November 1, 2015).
- Seyyed Sajjad from the city of Dorcheh in Isfahan Province a fighter in the 15thKhordad artillery division in Isfahan (Fars News, November 3, 2015).
- Colonel Ezatollah Soleimani, commander of a battalion in the IRGC's 44th Ghamar Bani Hashem brigade in Shahrekord in Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari Province (Afasaran.ir, November 2, 2015).
- Seyyed Ali Hosseini Alemi, aka Abu-Sajjad, a fighter in the Fatemiyounbrigade (Tasnim News, November 2, 2015).
- Esmail Zahedpour, from Golestan Province, killed in Aleppo (Golestan24.com, November 3, 2015).
- Mohsen Fanousi, from Hamedan Province, a fighter in the combat engineering corps (Tasnim News, November 4, 2015).
- Ruhollah Qorbani, a fighter in the Basij from Tehran, killed near Aleppo (Fars News, November 5, 2015).
- Qadir Sarlak, a fighter in the IRGC's Rasoulallah unit in Tehran, killed near Aleppo (Fars News, datenov 5 2015).
- Amir Hossein Hivedi, from Dezful in Khuzestan Province (Fars News, November 5, 2015).
- Mohammad Hossein Azizabadi, an officer in the IRGC's Imam Reza 21st armored brigade (Fars News, November 7, 2015).
- With the heavy losses the Iranians have suffered in Syria since the beginning of the ground offensive, Hossein Salami, IRGC deputy commander gave an interview to Iranian TV on October 26, most of which was devoted to the fighting in Syria. He admitted that Iran had reinforced its "advisory forces" in Syria, both quantitatively and qualitatively.
- As to the sharp increase in the number of Iranians killed, he said it was because the Iranian "advisors" could not remain in closed rooms. To be able to provide the Syrian fighting forces with better support they had to go into the field for first-hand information about the situation in the combat zone. He claimed the number of Iranians killed was not large, only larger than it had been in the past.
- Salami said he hoped in the coming days the action begun by the Syrian forces with Russian aerial support would lead to a strategic change in the combat. He said the Syrian struggle was between the "arrogance front" led by the United States and the "resistance front." The United States, he claimed, wanted to overthrow the Syrian regime and then move on to Lebanon, Iraq and Iran, but its goals and plans would not be realized, and the Syrian regime was currently stable.
- Salami claimed that in addition to the political support Iran gave the Syrian regime, it provided the Syrian army with strategic, operational and tactical support. It shared its combat experience with the Syrian army commanders, helped rehabilitate the Syrian army, provided commanders of various ranks with guidance and had established a popular militia in Syria that operated along the same lines as the Basij force in Iran.
- He added that Iran guaranteed the political and economic stability of the Syrian regime, which was at the forefront of the struggle against Israel and the United States. If Iran had left Syria alone in its struggle against the terrorists, he claimed, it would have to fight them in other locations as well, and therefore Iran decided to increase its support of Syria.
- As to the Russian aerial attacks, he said that initially they had not accompanied Syrian army ground operations, but that currently the Syrian army had a significant presence in the combat zone and had had successes even without Russian aerial support. He said that the Russians entered the arena because they understood that if they did not help Syria fight the terrorists, in the future they would find them on Russia's borders, because 20% of ISIS's commanders and several thousand ISIS terrorists had come from the Caucasus and Central Asia.
- Masoud Jazaeri, deputy Iranian chief of staff, also spoke about the rise in the number of Iranians killed in Syria, saying it was the result of the proximity of the Iranian "advisory forces" to the combat zones. He said it was the price Iran had to pay for preserving the "circles of regional resistance" (ISNA, November 1, 2015).
- In a speech delivered to Basij member students at Tehran University, Mohammad-Ali Jafari, commander of the IRGC, said Iran would do everything in its power to provide "consultant support " to the Syrian people and government. He said some of the measures Iran was taking could not be revealed.
- Hinting at internal disagreements within the Iranian regime over how to resolve the Syrian crisis, Jafari said that there were officials who did not understand why Iran had to show such sensitivity towards President Assad, and claimed Assad as a candidate for president was no different from anyone else. He said such individuals did not understand the situation in Syria and did not know that Assad had many supporters, that he was popular with the Syrian people and that the Syrian resistance depended on him. Jafari added that the enemies of Iran were sensitive about Assad and were prepared to meet Iran's demands regarding the Syrian regime, on condition that Assad be removed from office, but Iran knew full well what role Assad played in the resistance. He said Iran would be willing to see Assad step down only if the Syrians voted him out of office. Jafari also spoke about the Russian attack in Syria, saying that Russia was currently providing Russian army support, but it was unclear to what extent it was in line with Iran's positions on the Syrian issue (Tasnim News, November 2, 2015). Jafari's remarks may hint not only at differences of opinion within the Iranian leadership, but also between Iran and Russia regarding a future political arrangement in Syria, especially the political future of President Assad.
- Military sources in Aleppo reported that 1,100 fighters of one of the Iraqi militias had recently arrived in the Aleppo Province following direct orders from Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Qods Force. According to the report, the fighters belonged to the Abu al-Fadhal al-Abbas brigade, a Shi'ite militia established at the end of 2012–beginning of 2013 by Shi'ites affiliated with the global jihad. The militia's fighters come from Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan (Jyc.ir, October 28, 2015).
- Ali Asghar Gorjizadeh, commander of the IRGC's Ansar al-Mahdi unit, which is responsible for securing dignitaries, told a newspaper interviewer that although the IRGC provided the Syrian regime only with "advisory services," if the supreme leader issued the order, thousands of Iranian soldiers would be sent to fight in Syria. He said the Iranians would defend any site sacred to Shi'a that was endangered (YJC.ir, October 30, 2015).
- Last week Hossein Amir Abdollahian, deputy foreign minister for Arab-African affairs, stated that Iran's policies towards Syria had not changed. Talking to correspondents in Vienna, where the international talks for Syria's future were being held, he said that the talks were an opportunity to strengthen the political process in Syria and the struggle against terrorism. He said that anyone who wanted to see Assad out of office knew full well that only the Syrian people could decide his future within a political process (Fars News, October 29, 2015). Speaking to Iranian correspondents, Abdollahian denied a report in the Western media that Iran had agreed Assad would give up the presidency at the end of a six-month interim period. He said by virtue of Iran's efforts, a proposal for ousting Assad and a timetable for his leaving power had been stricken from the draft of the agreement reached in Vienna.
Iranian Intervention in Iraq
- Seyyed Vahid Noumi, a Basij fighter from Tabriz, was killed by ISIS fire near the city of Baiji in Iraq (Mashriq News, October 26, 2015).
- Hossein Salami, deputy IRGC commander, interviewed by Iranian TV onOctober 26, 2015 (See above), referred to the developments in Iraq, as well. He claimed Iran was as sensitive to developments in Iraq as it was to developments in Syria, and that Iraq had to be purged of the terrorists operating in its territory. He said that in Iraq the initiative had passed from ISIS to the Iraqi army and the Shi'ite popular militias.
- Nazem Dabagh, Iraqi Kurdish representative in Tehran, claimed Iran was the main and most important supporter of the Kurdish Autonomous Region in the war against ISIS. Interviewed on October 27 by Mehr News, he said Iran and the Kurdish Autonomous Region in Iraq had good cultural, political, economic and social relations and the Kurds in Iraq wanted to expand those relations, especially in the areas of the economy and trade. He said that since the beginning of the war against ISIS Iran had provided the Kurds with support in every area and had even given them weapons. He denied, however, that Iran intervened in the Kurds' internal political affairs.
- Iran's involvement in Iraq continues to foment Iraqi Sunni opposition. On October 20, 2015, the London-based newspaper Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported that senior Iraqi officials had recently voiced reservations about the intention of the central government in Baghdad to annex the Al-Nukhayb district, which lies near the border with Saudi Arabia and is part of Al-Anbar Province, to Karbala Province. Jasim al-Asal, a member of the Al-Anbar Province council, accused the central government in Baghdad of attempting to annex territories from Al-Anbar Province to the Shi'ite provinces. He said that the attempts were supported by "a neighboring country" [a hint at Iran], and warned that attempts to annex the Al-Nukhayb district to Karbala Province would lead to a sectarian war that would aid ISIS.
- Another Iraqi parliament member told a newspaper that in recent years Shi'ite politicians had tried to take control of the Al-Nukhayb district, claiming it belonged to Karbala Province. He claimed it was "an Iranian project to strengthen Iran's influence in the region," especially in view of the Al-Nukhayb's geographical importance, since it was both the only route leading to the Persian Gulf and had a border with Jordan. Annexing it to Karbala Province was, he claimed, part of Iran's long-term strategy to strengthen its influence and expand throughout the region to complete its Shi'a Crescent project. Iranian Intervention in Yemen
- In a speech given at Tehran University (See above) by IRGC commander Mohammad-Ali Jafari, he said that Iran was supporting Yemen to the best of its ability "with advice." He said that the Ansarollah, the Houthi Shi'ites, were firmly grounded in the current situation (Tasnim News, November 2, 2015
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